When I was a kid and all my friends were hell-bent on becoming professional football or baseball players, I diverted from the pack. My friends were all sheep, focused on relatively easy sports that mostly depended on one’s ability to throw and catch a ball.
Not me – I gravitated toward a much more arduous, masculine sport; one that requires great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry, precise timing and…the ability to hold one’s breath. Yes, I’m talking about synchronized swimming.
Okay, there’s not an ounce of truth to any of that, but it segued nicely into the following simile: much like synchronized swimming, marketing is continuously growing more dependent on an organization’s ability to orchestrate precisely arranged moves.
Here are four reasons why such demand marketing orchestration will be more important in 2016 than ever before:
1. Automation means little without coordination
First, I should provide my definition of “demand orchestration”: The precise, harmonious coordination of all demand marketing factors (people, tech, data sources, etc.) so that the whole operation is greater than the sum of its parts, like a symphony.
A couple years ago, when even the most advanced marketing organizations were only using a few marketing tech tools, focusing on the precise coordination of demand marketing efforts was less important, because it’s a lot easier to arrange 4 things than 14.
But these days, many marketing teams are dealing with tech stacks pushing 20 components or more. Such complexity requires deeper commitment to understanding how exactly these networks of technology communicate and contribute to overall customer experience and business value.
Clearly, this is why the marketing technologist role is growing across the board. Twenty tools may automate 100 processes, but if these processes aren’t in sync, all the automation will do little good. One bottleneck in data or gap in process can suck all the added value right out of your tech investments.
2. Sources of data continue to evolve and multiply
The marketing technology stack has largely been developing from the bottom of the funnel up. (Though AdTech has always sat above the funnel, it’s just recently starting to be enveloped by the larger “Marketing” stack).
B2B marketing’s first real taste of the MarTech stack was CRM, into which data was mostly manually imported. Then it was marketing automation platforms, which while enabling added sources of data through inbound efforts (websites, blogs, landing pages, etc.), it was still pretty straightforward and manageable.
Advancements in search and social tools have slowly heaped more data into the mix, complicating things as the matching of known and anonymous data have become a chief concern. But even this didn’t quite tipped the scales, due to MA vendors’ commendable efforts to integrate these social tools into their platforms.
These largely inbound efforts, however, have been unable to keep pace with demand marketers’ growing appetite for customer and prospect data. So, to remain competitive and sustain growth, many B2B marketing orgs (and the vast majority of enterprise companies) are shifting budget to outbound marketing initiatives – content marketing, events, third-party social efforts, telemarketing and more.
While these outbound efforts quickly stoke demand, they also complicate matters, because they’re multiplying the number of data sources, all of which need to be monitored and adjusted according to developing trends and changing needs. And as we all know, the greater the number of moving parts, the greater the chance something will go wrong. Hence, the growing importance of cross-channel demand coordination.
Moreover, all these additional sources are enabling our addiction to data, because…
3. We’re all data hoarders
Have you ever seen the show Hoarders? It’s disgusting and depressing…don’t watch it. But suffice it to say, marketers are becoming data hoarders – we want all the customer, prospect and program data we can get our hands on…until it overruns our jobs (and lives) with often useless information. It gets to the point where all the useless data blocks our ability to access the useful information.
Now, if you have seen Hoarders, you’ll know that the first thing the “counselors” do is force the afflicted, hoarding homeowner to organize all their junk (and hopefully throw out the unnecessary stuff).
Orchestrating demand marketing is becoming more and more like this on a daily basis – we’re learning to coordinate our sources of data (and the data itself) with specific tools to be able to find and access the useful information.
In the coming year, we’ll all need to ensure our novice orchestration efforts become professional skills, and that we’re effectively connecting demand marketing tools and processes to separate the wheat from the chaff. Those who don’t will simply suffocate in the success of their demand generation efforts.
4. The pace of change just keeps speeding up
…and good demand marketers must continuously adapt their processes and systems to keep up. This requires constant testing.
You can’t properly test, adjust and evolve your demand marketing initiatives without a high-level view of how all your programs, processes and tools affect one another. Demand marketers need a level of holistic insight and control over their entire operation that allows them to compare sources, campaigns, systems, content, engagement tactics and more against one another in ways that provide clear results so that they understand what works, what doesn’t and why.
This all comes down to orchestration. Just like an orchestra conductor can single out that spectacular violinist ready for a solo or the overzealous tuba player that should be booted, marketers must be able to pinpoint the good and bad regarding all the elements that make up their demand marketing orchestra.
The coming year will witness a tipping point. As organizations continue to adopt more technology and increase the volume of data in their systems, there will be a growing need to divide roles according to individual specialization. And all these individual efforts will need to be coordinated with growing precision. Marketing organizations will thus become more like orchestras, where specialization is balanced by precise coordination from the top down.